Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Park District Police Department
Served: 12 years*
Unit of Assignment / Detail: West Section
District of Incident (Present Day): 014 - Shakespeare
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 37
Date of Birth: 04 May 1902
Date of Appointment: 10 Apr 1905
Date of Incident: 20 Nov 1939
End of Watch: 20 Nov 1939
Date of Interment: 24 Nov 1939
Cemetery: Acacia Park Cemetery - Norridge, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 10
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 41
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 36-E: 15
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Park Policeman Harry Francois, Star #629, aged 37 years, was a 12 year veteran of the Chicago Park District Police Department, assigned to the West Section.
On November 20, 1939, Officer Francois and Sergeant Frank Blank were on patrol when the observed an expensive sedan stopped in Humboldt Park on the North Drive. The North Drive is an east-west arm of Humboldt Boulevard near North Avenue and Whipple Street. The officers were making their rounds in the park to kick out loiterers after park hours when they came upon the vehicle. The vehicle was owned by a union official on a date with a female companion.
When the union official stopped the car, four men jumped from the bushes surrounding the car. Officer Francois and Sergeant Blank coming up on the car observed only three of the men surrounding the car. Two of the men stood outside the passenger side door while the third was stationed by the driver’s door. The men had drawn weapons and had ordered the female to open her door, but rolled the window down instead. She claimed the door was locked and could not open it. Angry at her response, the one man ordered his accomplice to shoot her.
It was only seconds after that the officers took the bandits by surprise. The officer’s squad car had stopped only a few feet behind the sedan, close enough for Francois to grab one of the gunmen as he exited the squad car. As Officer Francois questioned the three men, the fourth offender, Jerry Mangano, age 22 of 2216 West Taylor Street, fired a single shot at close range. Officer Francois was struck in the left arm, the bullet traveling through his body into his heart. He was mortally wounded and died shortly after being hit.
Sergeant Blank was exiting the squad car as the shot rang out. He returned fire as the four robbers fled northbound into the neighborhood. Chicago Police and Park District Police responded to the scene and established a search of the area for the bandits.
All four were apprehended. Three of which were tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. Jerry Mangano also stood trial and was found guilty. He was convicted of first degree murder and also sentenced to death. A year later his sentence was commuted to 199 years in prison. He died in prison August 6, 1946.
Officer Francois was waked at Wold & Wold Funeral Home. He was laid to rest on November 24, 1939 in Acacia Park Cemetery, 7800 West Irving Park Road, Norridge, Illinois.
Park Policeman Harry Francois, born May 4, 1902, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Park District Police Department in 1927.
Officer Francois was survived by his wife, Nellie (nee Lewis), age 26 and children: Barbara Jean, age 4 and Donald Harry, age 2.
The Chicago Park District Police Department, in the City of Chicago, was disbanded on December 31, 1957. On January 1, 1958, the remaining officers were transferred to the Chicago Police Department through an intergovernmental agreement. Fallen officers of the Chicago Park District Police Department are currently honored on the memorial wall of the Chicago Police Department as Chicago Police Officers. Their stars are displayed in the Honored Star Case located in the lobby of the Chicago Police Department at 3510 South Michigan Avenue.